Two-time All-American and University at Albany Hall of Fame field hockey player and assistant coach Michelle Simpson will replace Courtney Veinotte as the associate head coach at the University of Maine.
The 31-year-old native of Middlesbrough, England, has been an assistant at Albany for the last eight seasons.
“I’m super excited,” said Simpson. “One of the biggest things that drew me to Maine is that they have never won an America East championship.
“That’s obviously incentive to try and do good things [to help UMaine win an America East title],” she said.
Albany has won four AE titles in the last seven years and in 2014 became the first conference team to reach the NCAA Final Four.
“I saw the [Albany] program go from 75th in the country to the Final Four. This is going to be a good fit for me. This will help me progress my career and develop as a coach,” Simpson said from Nashville, where she is preparing for Saturday’s St. Jude Rock ’n’ Roll Nashville Marathon.
She is looking forward to working with UMaine head coach Josette Babineau and coaching in a state that has so much pride and interest in its state university’s athletic programs.
Simpson said she also hopes to get involved in the Orono-based Black Bear Elite field hockey program for youngsters.
“We had a club in Albany that started with 17 kids and, this past season, they had over 200 try out,” said Simpson. “That’s a huge thing for me. I want to give back to young kids.”
Veinotte previously owned Black Bear Elite but sold it to Old Town native Shaunessy Saucier after taking an assistant coaching position at Hofstra University.
Simpson, a former America East Offensive Player of the Year, worked closely with the goalkeepers at Albany and will continue to do so at UMaine.
Babineau said Simpson will be her only assistant and will be involved in all aspects of the program.
“This couldn’t have worked out any better,” said Babineau.
“She came from a program that is very strong defensively and she is someone who can help us in that area,” said Babineau. “It’s also nice to get someone with coaching experience.”
At Albany Veinotte went from player to volunteer assistant to full-time assistant.
UMaine has recruited international players and Simpson will help in that area, said Babineau.
Simpson starts her new job in June.